Meet the WCCO Belting safety team that helped cut the company’s incident rate in half in one year, Blog Post
WCCO Belting was recently awarded two safety awards from the North Dakota Safety Council (NDSC) for our work to help keep employees safe. Through continued process improvements and implementing new practices, we earned the NDSC 2020 Safety Improvement Award and 2020 Workplace Safety Merit Award.
The 2020 Safety Improvement Award is not an easy award to earn. It is given to companies who show they have reduced the calculated OSHA incident rate by at least 50% over the course of a year. We are proud to have reduced our incident rate by 50.2% from 2019 to 2020, which helped us earn this coveted honor.
The 2020 Workplace Safety Merit Award is given to member companies showing an Experience Modification Rate (EMR) below 1 for the year 2020. A company’s EMR rate is based on past injuries and future chances of risk and is an important factor in pricing a company’s workers’ compensation and insurance premiums.
Our business couldn't have earned these awards without the leadership, focus and support of a great safety team, which recognized there were opportunities for improvement and implemented new approaches to help keep employees safe.
“While WCCO Belting has always made safety a priority, we spent 2019 dismantling and restructuring our safety and health program,” said Rod Koch, vice president of operations at WCCO Belting. “The first step we took was appointing a dedicated safety coordinator, Stefani Mikkelson, and joining the NDSC. We attended the NDSC conference in February 2020, and over the course of the year conducted many other tasks to help keep our employees safe and lower our incident rate.”
This June, during National Safety Month, we introduce you to the team behind the scenes helping to ensure that safety continues to be a top priority at WCCO Belting.
Stef Mikkelson, Safety Coordinator, Senior Buyer of Indirect
“I've been at WCCO almost 14 years and accepted the role of safety coordinator about 2 years ago. I’m pretty passionate about safety, and to ensure we stay focused on it, I hold monthly safety team meetings and the team holds bi-weekly safety inspections to be proactive. The inspections involve surveying the manufacturing floor, checking equipment, the PPE, tooling, and more, so we identify potential issues that might lead to an incident and make updates before it can occur. I also frequently check the OSHA 300 log to review incidents and near misses to help determine the root cause so we can address it appropriately. Right now, I’m working on getting an Advanced Safety Certification through the North Dakota Safety Council and I am going back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety.”
Brad Vilandre, Senior Safety Trainer
“I’ve been at WCCO for 19 years. I was a tooling setup supervisor and supported the training and standards department until about a month ago when I moved full-time into safety to focus on safety training. I’d never imagined myself as a trainer. I was shy in front of crowds, but now it’s easy for me. Punky and I are a team. So far, we’ve created 10 internal safety trainings together that we teach to employees, and we are conducting new hire safety orientation for all new employees.”
Linda “Punky” Ditsworth, Safety Training Coordinator
“I’ve been with WCCO Belting for 9 years in June. I was previously working in the training and standards department. I’m silly and I would crack myself up while I was training. It comes naturally to me, and Brad and I work well together. Other people notice this. We often hear: "They are great! They know how to train.” We’ve worked together training employees for a long time, and it’s paying off.”
Dewey Miller, Safety Team, Operations Manager
“I’ve been working in operations at WCCO Belting for almost eight years. I've been responsible for thousands of people in my life, and I’ve seen some difficult accidents. Those experiences have shaped who I am and safety as a priority.”
“At WCCO, it's the employees that make the business. Their needs become my needs. If you go home happy and you’ve been safe at work, it isn’t hard to come back in and do it again the next day. Any injuries or negativity you take home with you adds stress and can shorten daily life because it's not as fulfilling. Safety is paramount. We think about safety, quality and production. WCCO is family and we treat it as such. Everyone is doing the best they can do to keep everyone safe.”
Rod Koch, Safety Team, Vice President of Operations
“At WCCO, it’s important to know that we’re all responsible for safety. I learned about the importance of safety early on as a camp counselor taking care of kids. I've been working in factories for over 30 years as an assembler, quality and design engineer, and now operations, which gives me a diverse background. And I am a nationally certified first aid/CPR and AAD first responder.”
“Working at a family-owned business, and with our family-oriented culture, everyone here is my work family. I care about the employees like family. I want the team to come to work and go home in the same shape. People don't want to work where they aren’t safe and keeping employees safe means people are more productive.”
Responsive service is our cornerstone value. Employees working safely and comfortably can focus on the speed, efficiency, and product quality that we promise to our customers worldwide. Safety as a priority makes WCCO Belting a stronger business, trustworthy employer, and responsible community member. We’re proud of our safety team and look forward to the improvements they’ll continue to drive for us and the customers we serve.
Photo: Members of the WCCO Belting Safety Team attended the North Dakota Safety Council conference.